Me and Dzangel

Me and Dzangel
RMC 5K 2007

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

No surgery is good news? Right? I hope!

Well, I see it been a while since I have posted. Time for the inevitably long winded update. I hope it's not too blustery!
I'll start out by saying my cycling and running season didn't go quite as expected. I healed well from my hernia surgery. Glad that's behind me. I made the decision to put off any surgery on my aching and decrepit hip until fall. So, now that fall is here.....
I had a follow up with my friendly and helpful orthopedic specialist a couple weeks ago. I was to the point where it was starting to become a bit more of an issue. Waking me up at night, aching more throughout the day. He scheduled another MRI to see what changes, if any, occurred since January. There seemed to be some concern with being able to reattach my labrum due to another hip issue. The results were in and - drum roll please - they weren't what I expected. No surgery! Now, this isn't because I had miraculously healed myself in the preceding months. Apparently if that was the case, I'd be some kind of medical anomaly. No such luck. It seems there is a small cyst on my hip. Right where the labrum would be reattached. And drilling and reattaching there would be like drilling in to a cave. It seems there is nothing there due to some arthritis and erosion from joint fluid passing through the weak spot. Now remember, I am not a medical professional. Pretty sure I don't even sound like one. Just attempting to reiterate what I was told. The doctor told me he couldn't operate on me in good conscience. It most likely wouldn't improve things. I would probably be back in six months asking him why he put me through all the pain, rehab, surgery and down time for no noticeable improvement. 
So, again, not sure this was what I expected. I had built myself up to the expectation of surgery, rehab, maybe six months of limited activity and a slow build up to get back to normal. Whatever that might be.
Am I relieved? To be honest, a little bit. I know I'm not a good patient and I'm not very patient. I know rehab would have been a pain and I'd probably have been tempted to push a little more than was wise. I didn't look forward to a relatively inactive down time. But I was prepared to do what was necessary.
Now what. Work on my flexibility. Strengthen the core as much as possible. Add some strength through weigh work (high reps and lighter weights). Add some yoga. Modify my activities to what my body can handle. Learn my limits. It might mean cutting way back on the running but that hasn't been determined yet. Cortisone shot(s) are an option if needed, but I'm holding out on that. Maybe come spring/summer when it's time to start pushing and ignoring those limits.
One thing for certain is that I'm not down for the count. Not even close. Maybe instead of trying to get what little speed I had back, I need to work on my endurance.
I am looking forward to a winter on the Fatboy. I picked it up this fall and I'm having a blast. I like it enough that it could be my go to race bike. I like it enough that I sold my full suspension 29er. I just completed my first race on it and had a blast. I love how the big tires carve through the single track. It gives me an amazing sense of confidence. Now for some snow!
Well, that's where I am. As always, thanks for reading this. I appreciate any comments, suggestions and feedback.
Hope to see you on the roads and trails! Happy miles!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Back on my feet and learning to be patient

Howdy! Welcome back. Just a short update on my surgery, recovery and where things are headed. Or at least what my plan is for 2017.
I would like to say that I am back to 100% or as close as I can be after my hernia surgery. I have behaved. I have listened to family, friends and medical professionals. I am the first to admit I'm not a very good patient, or very patient. Just my nature. But I honestly was as close to a model patient as I could be.
Once I was cleared to get back to my normal routine, I did. But slowly. Really. Slowly. I started ramping up the running miles. I did some short and easy running the end of February/beginning of March. I upped the miles the middle of March and last week (March 20-26) I managed just over 38 miles in 6 days. I felt good. Not great. And I expected that. I've been trying to get in some stretching after every outing to keep some flexibility in my back and hips. But honestly, most of the pain I had been feeling is gone. My back still aches, but that isn't going away. I can deal with that. The running has been almost entirely pain free. No bulging, protruding area in my groin!!! I think that was a big part of my problem. I guess running with part of your guts poking through isn't such a smart move. Who knew? The incision area where the mesh was put in is a little annoying. Other than a small hard spot at the site there is no pain. Yee-freaking-haw!! I haven't headed back to the gym and the weights yet, but I'll work that in slowly. Biking hasn't been a bother either. I did some hard efforts on the trainer over the last few weeks with no discomfort or bother.
I was cleared to return to work on March 6 with some weight limitations and was back to 100% one month after surgery on March 17.
So now what? I'm planning on putting of the hip surgery for the present time. The pain that I was having is mostly gone. Every now and then it rears it's ugly head but that's my fault. I need to be patient and learn when to say when. I'm slowly adding running miles. The speed/pace isn't there yet and maybe it won't come back to what it was. I guess I'm okay with that. I'm not a kid anymore and I never was fast. I prefer long slow miles. Hmmm.....maybe a 50K this summer? I'd like to do a few longer bike events also. Wausau 12 hour solo single speed is on the agenda. We'll see how the summer plays out. I'd like to do Race the Lake again. Maybe on the trusty old steel Trek, just for fun?
So, I guess nothing is really written in stone. I'm going to take it day by day. I'm being as patient as I can and realizing I didn't lose certain areas of fitness overnight and won't get it back tomorrow. I'll bite the bullet and register for something soon, just for some good old motivation and fear to keep me honest.
Okay, that's enough for now. Thanks for reading and following along. I'll be back soon. Hopefully with some concrete goals and plans.

Monday, February 20, 2017

2017! Deja vu all over again!! Wait, maybe not!

Wow! It has been a really long hiatus since my last rambling. As usual, I'll try to keep this short and to the point, but you never know when a shiny object will appear and divert my attention. 😀
2016 certainly didn't pan out as I had expected. In the beginning I had big plans. More ultra trail runs. I would learn from my previous efforts and put that to good use. I was hoping to move up a notch in Marathon Maniacs. In my mind I was ready to put my head down and push through and get some good results. Well.......that didn't happen. If you follow along you know the only ultra result I had was a Did Not Start. Running pretty much went downhill from there. On a positive note, I had a great year on the bike(s). More miles than I've had in years. Good miles. Fun miles. Solo miles. Group miles. Road miles. Trail miles. A few races with mixed results. But towards the end of the year even that was starting to hurt.
So it's back to those damned aching hips. I've tried therapy, exercise, cortisone and steroid shots. More x-rays and even a couple MRIs. And the result is-drum roll please- We interrupt your reading of this for an important update- not what I had originally planned on writing about here. I originally started this entry a couple of weeks ago. After the MRI and a discussion with the surgeon, surgery to reshape my right hip and repair a torn labrum was the plan. I was ready to write this summer off to rest, rehabilitation and getting healthy again. 
While I was at the doctors office discussing my options I mentioned another little issue that had been bothering me for "a while". I had a bit of a bulge in my right groin area. It wasn't always there. I could push on it and it would disappear. At the beginning it would be a non-issue for weeks. No pain. Not really a bother at all. Then it started becoming a more frequent issue. It really seemed to affect my running. It wasn't much of an issue on the bike, but I usually knew it was there. Towards the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 it was becoming more....bothersome, shall we say. A couple more appointments and I was the proud father of a inguinal hernia. What next?? Really??
The orthopedist I was seeing wanted this taken care of before dealing with my hip.
So I'm sitting on the couch with my laptop and an ice pack writing this while recovering from surgery to repair the previously mentioned hernia.  I had surgery on February 17. According to the doctor it went well. I had mesh implanted to repair the hernia. I was up and walking the same afternoon. Sore, but moving. I've managed a good walk the three days since surgery. I would like to add that they were walks on February days with sunshine and temperatures nearing 60°F. I know I couldn't run or ride, but c'mon Mother Nature, really!? I've tried to be a good patient and listen to Tammy and the rest of my family as they threaten me with even greater bodily harm if I do anything stupid. I'd be interested to know what exactly that defines. In all seriousness, I am being smart and careful. I have a follow up appointment on February 28 and I'll see what I get cleared for then. Even after that I will take it slow. I'm hoping that this might even delay my hip surgery. Maybe the hernia was pushing on enough things in there that it added to the problem. Maybe even changing my running motion. I'd like to heal up and see how things feel. The orthopedist said that this isn't exactly life threatening. I guess it will come down to how much pain I'm in once I get rid of this pain. 
So, it will be a bit of rest and rehab for me yet, but not quite what I was imagining. I may yet have a decent year. I know the hip issue won't go away, and even surgery won't eliminate everything due to the fact that there is some degeneration in the joint. I am going to take this day to day and not get my hopes up but I'm crossing my fingers. I'll know more in a week. Hopefully it's good news. 
As usual, thanks for reading. I hope it isn't too boring. And if you've dealt with these issues I'd like to have some feedback!!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The toughest race I've never done

Well, the Ice Age Trail run has come and gone for another year. The 2016 edition was a new experience for me. I started the year with high hopes of finally beating this course. Or at least not suffering as much as I have in the past. By the time race weekend rolled around, I was a spectator and crew support for Tammy as she ran the half marathon. 
I have to admit that it was really tough watching all the runners line up to start the 50K and the half marathon. It is interesting to see the start of a longer distance trail run. A few of the faster and stronger runners take off like it's a local 5K. The rest of the runners realize it is going to be a long day and set the pace accordingly. I even saw a couple runners heading out minutes after the official start. No rush, just talking and heading down the trail. Not very likely to see that at the start of many road races! Watching everyone head in to the woods and out of sight was hard on me. Then came the quiet of the start/finish area and along with it way too much time to think. 
I waited for Tammy to come through at the end of her first loop. She looked strong and was running comfortably. That's not an easy thing to do on that course. I enjoyed people watching as all the different runners passed by. Young, old, runners, walkers, some serious and some just enjoying the miles and scenery. Most of the runners seemed like they were having fun. A few looked like they were hurting. But they were all out there putting one foot in front of the other. 
I started getting a little nervous as the time passed and Tammy wasn't in sight yet. We both knew it was going to be a long day for her but the minutes kept ticking by and still I couldn't see her coming down the last few hills. Eventually she came in to view. Limping and bit dirty and beat up. The Ice Age hills claimed another victim. Apparently rolling down the hills in the middle of the loop isn't recommended. But she finished! And I couldn't have been more proud! She never gave up and pushed through the last few miles to cross the finish line to complete another half marathon. Add in the cold, wind, sleet and snow-YES, SNOW- and it made for an even tougher finish.
As we were talking on the drive back home Tammy made a comment that kind of stuck with me. She said I need to get better, heal up and lace up my shoes again. "These are your people." If you know me at all, you know I'm a serious introvert. I've never really thought of myself as a group sport kind of guy, but in a way she's right. I feel at ease and comfortable at a trail race. Especially an ultra. I love the test of seeing how far and hard I can push my body and mind. I don't feel like I'm competing against the other runners, just against myself. I like the low key, laid back air of an ultra. Any event with buffets at the aid stations is all right with me!
So, it's back to the doctor and a visit to a sports medicine specialist. Maybe a fresh look and second opinion will give me some different options to get me lacing up my shoes again. Or maybe I'll just have to learn to deal with a few aches and pains. 
I've been spending a lot more time on the bike and it seems to be helping. Maybe a season spent in the saddle will result in more running time in the future. Or maybe I'll just have to learn to be a good crew member and cow bell ringer! I'm crossing my fingers for the first option. 
As always, thanks for the read. Comments are welcome!

Monday, May 9, 2016

A first time for everything!

Wow, it really has been a long stretch since if emptied my mind! I guess I really didn't have much that I thought was worth posting. I'll try to keep this short, but no promises.
If you follow this you know I've been dealing with some health issues. As for the pesky parasite problem, I'm still not 100% sure that I've got that beat. As far as the hip/back issues go, well, that's another story. I've been trying to convince myself that I could train through the issue and I really did give it a good try. I took rest days, cross trained, you name it and I tried it. The end result is that running hurts. More than normal. Especially anything over 10 miles. It seems that even my gait has changed. I remained optimistic and even registered for one of my favorite events-Ice Age Trail 50. I figured I could put my head down and shuffle through a 50K. As the year progressed and my training regressed I swallowed my pride and moved down to the half marathon. I surely could stumble through that, right? Well, today I choked on what was left of my pride and contacted the RD and chalked up a first- Did Not Start. Not quite how I envisioned my season starting. I'll still be at the race this weekend, but in a supporting role, as Tammy run her half marathon. I'll be cheering everyone and enjoying the atmosphere. Can you say "more cowbell"!?
So now what? I'm pretty much tossing in the towel this year as far as running is concerned. My thought process is that the rest, both mental and physical will do me good. That doesn't mean I'm going to spend my days on the couch. I'm planning (hoping) to spend more time on the bike(s). The non-weight bearing component of bicycling doesn't seem to bother me. I've been putting in some fairly good miles with relatively little pain. Mostly just getting used to being in the saddle again. I'm certainly not fast but I'm okay with that-really! No, really! I realize I'm not a kid anymore. There will be more rest days and smarter training. Maybe even a race or two. I haven't looked too far ahead but I'd sure like to do an event or two this summer. Maybe a WEMS race. Maybe Wausau24.
I like the idea of something with more endurance than speed. I think it plays more to my strength and years of working shift work.
I plan to commute more by bike this year. It's a bit of a logistical chore, but I can do it if I quit making excuses. Plus, this gives me an excuse to put some miles on what seems to be a growing corral of bikes.
Hopefully, I'll be lacing up my shoes again. I really do miss the trails and the long miles. It's where I feel most comfortable. I guess I'm already thinking about 2017.
As always, thanks for reading. I welcome your thoughts and comments. And hopefully I'll see you on the roads and trails this year!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Crossing my fingers and pondering

It's been a couple months so apparently it's time for an update. Whether you want one or not! I've been putting this off until I had some solid information. I do enough babbling without a topic.
I've been done with my latest course of medication for babesia for approximately one month. I definitely feel better. I've got some energy back. I don't ache quite as much. I suppose you could say I'm hopefully optimistic. I didn't have another blood draw to confirm this so I am just going on my gut feelings. My primary care physician felt another blood test wasn't warranted due to my feeling better. I'm good with that since I was beginning to feel like a human pincushion. If I start feeling "bleh" again, I'll get poked.
On to other issues. Man, getting older really isn't what I imagined.
I went back to the doctor to finally, hopefully get my back/hip issues resolved. After exhausting all other options I finally had an MRI a couple weeks ago. That test lead to an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. I got lucky again. The doctor I saw is a runner. It helps having a physician who can appreciate and understand my concerns and questions.
After a few more x-rays it appears my I have a pretty nice case of arthritis and wear and tear of my hips. Hmmm..... I wonder how this could occur? So now I'm on an NSAID for a month, to see if that will help. I've headed back to the gym to work on some strength and conditioning. That is my own prescription. It can't hurt, right? Surgery to reshape my hip bones was discussed but I really don't like the sound of that. I'm leaning towards a more diverse training plan. And listening to my body more closely. Maybe even-GASP- taking a rest day here and there. But don't count me out just yet. I have some grand plans for 2016. I'll be turning the big 55. That means a new age group and new goals. But, I will be smarter and wiser. That comes with age, right?
I'm remaining optimistic. Yeah, I know. If you really know me you know how funny that statement is. But it's true. One way or another I am going to figure out a plan and come back as strong, or stronger that ever. Just watch and see. Again, if you really know me, it's going to take a lot more that this to keep me down!
Thanks for reading and following along. It is much appreciated!
Medical disclaimer (does that sound legal and official?). Not my hip x-ray. But that is what a normal hip should look like.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hindsight is 20/20. But will I learn?

It's been a couple weeks since my last post and I've been thinking. Scary, I know!
Not to sound like I'm whining but it was a rough week. To say I was tired last week is a huge understatement. No energy, listless and just generally out of sorts. The runs and ride I did were lackluster at best. I just never felt "good". That's the only way I can describe it. Nothing I could really put my finger on. But the time spent on the trails and road gave me plenty of time to think.
What really got me thinking was feeling like I was constantly sucking air. I felt like I could never take a good deep breath. Like someone was giving me the worlds tightest bear hug. I started to wonder how long this damn bug has been giving me fits. I remember telling Tammy that after a few WORS races back in 2012. I had races where my legs would feel good but I just couldn't catch my breath. I just chalked that up to not enough/too much/the wrong kind of training. Now looking back I wonder if maybe it wasn't my training but my parasitic pals.
That's how the athlete's mind works. I know I'm not an elite athlete, but I try damn hard. And when I have a bad day it must be something in my training regimen. And I'll bet any athlete worth his weight in sweaty workout gear will admit to the same thing, at least some of the time. It never occurred to me to see my friendly GP. Just train harder. Or - gasp!!!- take a rest day! Would an earlier visit have nipped this in the bud? Who knows.
Now a disclaimer. I know it's not a good idea to self diagnose using the tubes of the interweb but I prefer to call it research. Apparently my little shortness of breath can be a symptom of babesia. I like the term some of the web pages use. Air hunger. That's just what it feels like. Like I want to take a big deep breath but I can't quite fill my lungs. It feels like that next deep satisfying breath is right around the corner but it never arrives. I don't always feel like this. The feeling comes and goes. Sometimes it seems to be more in the back of my mind and it doesn't really bother me. Other days, or weeks, I feel like I'm trying to breathe through a straw.
I guess the gist of this post is don't hesitate to see your friendly physician when you don't quite feel right. People who know me well are going to laugh very hard at that last statement! The least that will happen is he/she will laugh and say "train a little harder"! Or they might dig a little deeper and find a little something and treat it before it becomes a big something.
I'll end this by saying I'm keeping a positive attitude even if it may not seem that way. I know I'm lucky to be able to get out and run or ride or whatever I may choose on any given day. I'll take the good days and enjoy them. The not so good days will come and go. And I really believe I'll beat this. Three more weeks, give or take on this dose of meds and then I will know for sure.
Just a few links if you're inclined to know more.